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Information

Who is responsible?
Teachers and parents have a special responsibility for looking after young people, and that includes helping them if they are being bullied at school. But adults cannot do this without help from young people. When someone is bullied at school, other young people who are not directly involved usually know what is going on. Even though they are not involved they could help people who are being bullied. They could encourage them to talk to an adult or could offer to talk to an adult on their behalf. They might be able to let bullies know that they do not like what they are doing and that they are determined to see it stop.

All members of a school community, young and old, have a responsibility to help people who are being bullied and to speak out against bullying behaviour.

Why should young people help?
There are lots of reasons why young people should help schools tackle bullying:

  • They might want to help a friend, or someone else they know, who is being bullied.
  • Some have been bullied themselves in the past and want to stop it happening to other people.
  • They may realise that anyone can be bullied - if bullying is not challenged it may be their turn to be victims next.
  • Taking part in anti-bullying activities can be enjoyable and worthwhile.
  • People who watch bullying but do nothing (they are called bystanders) help the bullies by providing them with an audience. Who wants to be accused of helping bullies? Being cruel isn't cool is a great slogan devised in Keith Grammar School.

What if it isn't taken seriously?
If your school is one of those where bullying is still not taken seriously enough there are things that young people can do to help raise awareness of the problem. Anyone can do this. You just need to be determined to make things change.

Some school students have helped by carrying out questionnaire surveys which can help to show where bullying is happening and how many people are involved. Others have found out about different anti-bullying strategies by reading books and sending away for information. It is best if you can do this as part of the normal activities of the school. Subjects like English, Modern Studies, Religious Studies and PSE (Personal and Social Education) may provide opportunities for work like this. Once your report is ready you could show it to the head teacher, the student council or the school board. This should help everybody to understand that bullying needs to be taken seriously, and that something can be done about it.

Don't leave it to others
If young people leave it all to adults, the problem will never go away. You can help to make your school a better place for everyone, and learn some useful skills at the same time, by joining in with activities like those listed on this sheet.

  • Bully boxes have been set up in some schools. Young people can put notes in these if they are too worried to speak openly about bullying. If your school has boxes like this use them sensibly. Always make sure that anything you write about has really happened.
  • Be a buddy to a younger pupil. Older pupils can sometimes volunteer to help new pupils coming into their school by getting to know them and by helping them with any problems.
  • Special campaigns, such as a "no-bullying day", can help.
  • Some schools have student or pupil councils. You can ask the council to discuss bullying, even if you are not a member.
  • Counselling is a special way of talking to someone. People who are being bullied, or who are bullying others can be helped by counselling, but only if the counsellor (usually an adult) has had training.
  • Some schools have set up peer counselling schemes where young people volunteer to learn how to help other young people.
  • Mediation - some schools have introduced schemes where two people who disagree about something agree that a third person, who may be either an adult or another young person, helps to find a solution to a problem. This is helpful in many situations, - but not in all cases of bullying. A bully may refuse to take part because he or she has no interest in ending the bullying. A victim may feel that a negotiated solution is not fair when it is the other person who is entirely in the wrong.
  • Taking part in plays and other drama activities can help people to understand what it feels like to be bullied and to think about what they can do to stop it.
  • Peer Support (or Tutoring) is an idea, developed in Australia, in which older students volunteer to discuss things like bullying, friendship or drugs with groups of younger pupils.

Surf this:

  • The Anti-Bullying Network website has a special section for young people and a "Questions and Answers" section packed with facts about bullying. Go back to our homepage and surf some of the other sections.
  • This site has an article written by Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People entitled, Bullying Has No Place in Scottish Schools.
  • ChildLine's website includes very useful information about peer support.

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Any comments about this information sheet should be directed to the Anti-Bullying Network. It may be photocopied or reproduced for non-commercial use in schools and other educational establishments in Scotland providing the Anti-Bullying Network is credited.

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